Wednesday, December 5, 2012

POP goes the Blanket

Blankets are loved by everybody. Most babies grow up with them. Blankets grow larger, adjusting to the growing child, then the child turns into an adult, needs a beautiful (or masculine!) blanket on the bed, for relaxing on the sofa, huddling under it against the chills of winter or use it summer outings to spread on it and read a book, have a picknick. Giving a blanket to a child one simply cannot go wrong. 

Tropical Pop Circles Blanket
My first gift to my grandson was a log cabin blanket, in two sizes, one for his crib and one to take on travels! The Hope Blanket was followed quickly by a light-weight swaddling blanket in a basket-weave pattern. The POP pattern by tincanknits makes a cheerful and warm comforting blanket, lap sized or just right to cover a sleeping baby.

The yarn: MC from Cascade while the Multicolor yarns are from a large range of Red Heart colors.
Both knit well, the Cascade maybe a bit difficult for impatient knitters. Why Tropical? The colors remind me of tropical flowers, birds and fish! For information on modifications please see my Ravelry page or go to bottom of this page. A lined version of the POP blanket can be seen by clicking on this link. To my delight, this lined baby blanket is now used for a baby boy in London, UK. Makes me happy!

A tutorial for the POP Blanket can be found at the TinCanKnits site, click here.
Here my notes from my Ravelry page:
Ordered the CC yarn at Jimmy Beans (USA), they are always very reliable and accommodating with the postage from the US to Europe!
Red Heart Boutique Treasure in the colors (from the top down):
1) Abstract / 2) Watercolors / 3) Horizon
The MC is from Cascade Yarns, Ecological Wool, in Natural. Purchased from Laine et Tricot (France).
Out of curiosity I ordered square dp needles from Jimmy Beans. Pattern starts with circular Emily Ocker CO : the square birchwood needles feel good, nice points, not at all cumbersome. Easy TV-knitting.
16 November 2012. Finished all squares.
Notes on this pattern.
1) Emily Ocker CO with MC “Boutique Treasure Yarn”
2) Increased stitch count by picking up the right leg of the stitch in the row BELOW the one you have on your left needle (not with kf&b and not by knitting into the bar between two stitches) to make a truly invisible increase, leaving no hole and no nub. Here is the best tutorial I could find for this technique, from TECHknitting. Changed to the bulky MC “Cascade” yarn in Round 12.
3) Knitting the corners: I knitted the individual corners by knitting forwards (knitting) and backwards (tinking), starting with the short-rows. The corners are very uniform this way plus I did not have to turn the work at all. Here is an excellent tutorial for this technique. After a couple of corners this really speeds up the corner-rows with every module, plus for me it improved the uniformity of stitch tension in those short rows.
In my next short-row project I will use the practical Japanese short-row method by Susanna i.e. described by Purlwise - replicating this German short-row method by Roxanne Richardson.
Another great short-row method is described here.
I used the German short-row method for my Wingspan and like the results.
4) Binding off: Used a crochet hook the size of the needles and made an sc-bind-off. As said in the very precise pattern, all left-over wrapped stitches are neatly taken care of during the bind-off. The 3 wrapped stitches are always in the second six stitches of one needle, you can’t miss them. Another trick for ensuring an elastic corner: yarn-over once before binding off the corner stitch, do NOT knit it but simply let it drop when you are past the corner. This way you have ample space to massage the finished corner into a nice flat edge for joining. Same applies for a crochet bind-off.
5) Blocking: I usef a plywood board and stainless steel nails outlining a square, hook in the stacked modules, about 8 at a time per square. Beneath the first square I placed cellophane (plastic from a shopping bag will do) to keep the square from getting stained. Then I covered the stack with a wet towel wrung dry. After 12 hours the modules are perfectly blocked and dry. Regretfully, I don’t have a blocking board. But with this method, I can block a couple of modules at the same time, depending on the thickness of the module, and inevitably they are all the same size :-)
6) Joining modules to make a blanket.
With the MC yarn, I crocheted the modules together, framing each one - looked tidier than my sewing efforts.
A very nice project - thank you tincanknits!
It reminded me of a beautiful blanket by Sophie Digard, a French designer.
Information on quantity: The 3 Red Heart Yarns skeins last for one 4x5 module blanket AND one 5x5 module blanket or two identical ones and 3 muffs (see muff link below). I needed not even one complete skein of MC Cascade Yarn for one blanket and I have about 1/3 of a skein left of the second one after having finished two blankets.
Ideas for leftover yarns: Knit modules for making a bag similar to this Motif bag. Used two modules each for knitting a muff - three altogether!
Click HERE for a tutorial by TinCanKnits.

7) Lining the blanket. This is a baby blanket and will probably be washed frequently. I found a lining always helps to keep a knitted blanket in shape and probably is easier on a baby’s sensitive skin. I used a German “Molton”, for UK/US knitters I would suggest a thin fleece or a thick flannel sheet. If new, wash and iron the fleece/flannel to avoid later shrinkage. Cut out a square/rectangle according to the dimensions of the blanket, adding about 1,5 cm (1 inch) all around.
Pin the fleece/flannel onto the blanket with great care so there are no folds or puckers - starting by pinning the four corners, then the sides and each center of the modules to the fleece/flannel lining. I secured the module centers on the lining with a firm cross-stitch. Then start sewing the lining to the blanket just before the edges, so the lining does not show when you look at the module side.
I used a narrow herringbone stitch for elasticity. I think the lining process is not much fun to do but it adds so much to the blanket, the weight is better and it probably outlasts the “baby stage” of the recipient in much better shape.
A nice tutorial for fabric lining a knit blanket is found here in the blog by Italian Dish Knits and for the stitch itself see this very detailed information in this blog by TECHKnitting.

Over fourty years ago I made a pink blanket for my newborn daughter Anne. At that time, we lived in the Windy City of Chicago at that time so warmth was essential for outings. Both of my girls had so-called Charlie-Brown type Security Blankets, which were called "Mogy" - a name invented and adopted from the children of a wonderful friend in Chicago whose two kids also had "Mogies". And when these Mogies were worn and washed and torn to shreds, their pieces were faithfully kept in boxes and amidst precious linen and lace. Bits of them were put into match boxes and mailed abroad to those of the children who spent some time abroad.

I also made a Bubble Blanket for Anne. On a wooden frame that I made to measure a bit wider than the buggy and almost just as long, I hammered in nails at regular intervals and closely together to make many small pompons.

 I layered pink yarn up and down and over and across around the nails, completing the criss-cross layering with a few white yarn layers. Then I tied all crossings tightly together with an non-untiable knot. Once this tedious part was done, I carefully cut with a pair of good scissors precisely 2 thirds of the yarn layers at every crossing right in the middle between two crossing layers, counting the thread layers that were to be left uncut. And POP by POP - the PomPoms were released! The blanket is light-weight and looks very special with a smiling baby under it! Now, the bubble blanket is For Sale.

Wool and cotton vie for their individual importants, but it is the weather and climate that will guide our choice. Blankets carry many names. I like the name comforters best because we associate blankets and covers generally with a comfort feeling. It is the first item that people in need will yearn for, a cup of hot tea and a blanket to get protected against the weather. Charity blankets carry love and caring all by themselves.
A blanket is a universal concept for a welcome gift, given with the understanding that one cares and wishes to help and learn about caring. A blanket can be made of rags and yet be welcome. Each step of making it is filled with thoughts of the recipient. Each step, stitch, module or circle is not just a part of the whole but an infinite shell holding loving thoughts of the kown or unknown recipient.

Thought of the day: There are pilgrimages like the Path of Saint Jacob. Or the Zen pilgrim path in Europe, developed by Dirk Beemster. I keep on pondering about the difference between the two paths. The goals intimated by the Saint Jacob's pilgrimage appear to be the path itself and getting absolution of sins upon reaching Santiago de Compostela. The Zen pilgrim path has no goal. It is a path for the here and now. It makes me smile to make a blanket for a baby, right here and now, it will eventually find its own recipient, somewhere...


Fae said...

I love the bubble blanket! And it is echoed in the squares of the new blanket.

Anonymous said...

I love the Pop blanket at first sight and can't believe you made it with Red Heart for the circles. It looks fabulous!!!! Like you, comforter is definitely the way I would describe mine.

That's some labor of love of the one made for Anne. You are an amazing artist and mother. So many eves I dreamed of sitting, sipping, knitting, and chatting up a storm right by your side, my friend.

Interesting thought for the day. Me? Zen pilgrim, indeed.

eau de nil said...

how beautiful, your pop blanket
and your thoughts.